Deep in the Heart Film Festival 2021 Virtual Cinema

By Mark Long


You may be ready to mark this year’s Deep in the Heart Film Festival (DitHFF) as finished. After all, the Hippodrome’s theaters are dark again, the awards have been handed out, and everybody’s gone home … or for many of the filmmakers in attendance this past weekend, they’re moving on to the next movie festival.

Not so fast!

Even though the in-person screenings are done, you can still see most of the DitHFF’s offerings online through Saturday, July 31.

How It Works

Watching online is easy enough: Go to DitHFF’s Virtual Cinema and pick the movies you want to watch. DitHFF uses Eventive to accept payments and unlock movies for viewing. (If you don’t already have an account, you’ll be prompted to set one up.) After you’ve selected a movie and paid for it — most are $8 — access it via the Eventive app on your smart tv, Roku, or another digital device.

Full-length movies include Electric Jesus, which won the best feature prize, and the documentaries Trans Pecos, Chasing Childhood, and Vinyl Nation, which won best documentary. And you can watch dozens of short films, many made in Texas, grouped in different categories. These include Relationships 101, Altered States, Oddities, and more.

I didn’t make it to the Hippodrome, for example, until Saturday morning for the Occupational Hazards short films block. By then I’d already missed a couple of earlier screenings I wanted to see: the Texas noir feature Outlaw’s Buckle and the Friday Night Horror collection of short films.

So I spent my Sunday afternoon happily — and gratefully! — watching them at home.

What to Watch

As for my recommendations, if you like stories of betrayal and rednecks behaving badly, Outlaw’s Buckle is a good bet. I’ll admit: At the beginning, I wasn’t too sure about it. After the third or fourth doublecross, however, during the search for a rare rodeo belt buckle, I was sold.

And while Brian Baumgartner — you know him as Kevin on The Office — won the best actor award this year, my money would have been on Buckle’s Thom Hallum, who plays a deputy sheriff stuck guarding a remote Texas jail during an unrelenting storm. He does a great job as a man seemingly over his head but who has more going on than you initially suspect.

As a group, I liked the Occupational Hazards block better than Friday Night Horror. Its standout was She Used to Laugh. It cuts between a comedian, Jay, telling the story onstage of a recent breakup with his girlfriend that’s intercut with flashbacks of their life together. The camera style was fluid and engaging, and it was a complete film that told a whole story. This was in contrast to many of the horror shorts, which seemed more like part of a proposal to fund a full-length movie.

So, maybe you’re a film buff. Or you just want to see what the Deep in the Heart Film Festival is all about. Either way, take this chance to catch up on what you missed last weekend. But time is of the essence because you only have through Saturday, July 31.

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